You think you’re ready. You always think you’re ready before you go on stage. But you don’t really know until something goes wrong. You convince yourself nothing will or that if it does, you’re ready to deal with it.
But you just have to do it. You go from thinking about doing it, from wondering what it’s going to be like, to doing it. And it’s never quite what you expect, except that you know it’s never quite what you expect. It’s never the same twice. You control as much as you can and then the rest? It’s why live music hasn’t died out despite decades of pre-recorded stuff.
And besides, you can’t throw flowers or stuffed animals at your stereo. Well, okay, you can, but the effect is hardly the same.
Let’s just say I wasn’t expecting quite so many flowers or stuffed animals.
It wasn’t a problem, really–it’s not like we were knee deep in them–but I didn’t really expect any, so when there were half a dozen stuffed animals and probably two dozen individual roses, carnations, whatever, it seemed like a lot. At first I thought maybe there was one girl in particular trying to get Ziggy’s attention and she was throwing a bouquet one flower at a time. But no, I definitely saw two or three different girls when I bothered to look.
That first show, I spent the first two or three songs noticing the light cues. It was way better than the minimized run-throughs we’d rehearsed. I wanted to give Louis a thumbs-up, but he was out there at the very back of the hall, at a control board, and probably wouldn’t even be able to tell it was him I was gesturing to. I’d tell him later. If I remembered.
The cheers when the sunbeams came out of Ziggy’s ass were epic.
The cheers when Ziggy actually picked up some flowers were even more epic. He stuck one behind my ear, under the band of the headset, just as I was starting a solo, and while I played, he stood behind me, leaning his head against my back like he was catching his breath while it was my turn in the spotlight. I could feel him panting and for half a second I wondered if he was okay, but then when his cue came, out he went, the follow spot glued to him as he traipsed along the edge of the stage, prompting even more flowers to rain down.
I saw him catch one and bite its head off, and blow the petals up in the air.
After the first encore, we went off the stage, and Bart said into my ear, “That totally worked. Didn’t feel cheesy at all.”
To which I replied, “When enough people are screaming and cheering, it’s easy to feel like we can do no wrong.”
While waiting for the cheering to reach a fever pitch, then, in those moments in the dark wings, I got an idea for a song built on a riff with the words “do no wrong.” There was no time to jot it down or anything, so I just tried to imagine that was the song we were about to play, even though right now it was just the seed of an idea in my head.
Second encore I was a little distracted, then, or maybe I was just so endorphin high by that time I could barely keep my focus. But I held it together, and in the end we took our bows as the house lights came up and gave me my first clear view of the sweaty, ecstatic crowd.
Backstage there was champagne and congratulations all around. We weren’t leaving town until the morning, so we had a fairly short party right there at the venue, as these things go.
I didn’t even have any champagne. I was so buzzed from the show itself, I didn’t need it. I hugged Carynne. I drank a can of Pepsi (because they had Pepsi instead of Coke). I shook hands with random promoter people and radio people.
Then a venue employee (I could tell by the shirt and his tags), came up to me with a bouquet of flowers, roses mostly, with some other stuff mixed in I didn’t know the names of.
“For you,” he said.
“Me? You sure it’s not for Ziggy?”
“The card’s in your name, sir,” he said.
I laughed. “Sir,” sounded too funny. “Okay, thanks. I took the flowers, then had to hold them in one arm while I opened the card.”
“Who is it from?” Ziggy asked, sniffing one of the big blooms hanging off the end.
“Someone who didn’t want to fling it in our general direction I guess,” I joked. “Have you ever seen so many flowers?”
“Hm, yeah, Fleetwood Mac. People throw a lot of stuff at Stevie Nicks,” he said.
The card was from Jonathan. It read: Good luck and break a leg. See you when you get to New York.
Ziggy looked over my shoulder.
“It’s from the Spin reporter,” I said, even as I wondered why I said it like that.
“Awesome,” Ziggy said, in a flat voice, as he looked across the room, as if he was already moving on to another conversation in his mind. A moment later, he bounced over to greet someone.
And I exhaled. Do no wrong, in my head had become a euphemism for don’t fuck things up. So although I sniffed the flowers, and set them carefully aside, and saved the card in the case of the Ovation, in my head it was my mantra, do no wrong, do no wrong. Because somehow in there, I felt like I had.